Words: BC Bike Race2023 BC Bike Race Day 1-3: Cowichan Valley BC Bike Race 2023
BC Bike Race kicked off its 17th year with a return to Vancouver Island, back where it all began. Riders had their first sample of the iconic west coast greenery with a short dip into the singletrack on Maple Mountain for the opening Prologue.
Racing in the Green Zone was frenetic over the first three days, with new names rising to challenge returning champions. On the men’s side all three stages saw winning margins of four seconds or less as Craig Oliver battles it out with Canadian brothers Quinton and Peter Disera. Craig Oliver battles the Disera Brothers.
After three days of racing, 2023 BC Bike Race is turning into a battle between Craig Oliver and the Diseras. Which Disera brother the New Zealand racer is up against seems to change every day, though. In the Prologue and on Mount Tzouhalem, it was Quinton. On Maple Mountain, Peter led the attacks.
If the brothers are working as a team, they aren’t letting much on.
“We’re competitive, but if he can nail it down, that’s good. If I get stronger throughout the week, it’s good,” Peter admits, adding, “Just as long somebody walks away with it.”
After two burly days of racing, Quinton dropped down the standings as his brother and Oliver duked it out on the way up to, and down from Maple Mountain summit.
Sitting quietly in third is 2021 BC Bike Race winner, Andrew L’Esperance.
Carter Nieuwesteeg, on the podium last year, and multi-time BCBR winner Geoff Kabush are in fourth and fifth. If the fireworks at the front of the field get as hot as this week’s weather, another implosion could open the door for any of these favourites. For Kabush, the Island Roots run deep. Remi The Semi revs up for the long haul
Another rider that was attacking the descent from Maple Mountain was none other than Rocky Mountain Race Face enduro pro, Remi Gauvin. Remi “The Semi” launched down Maple Syrup’s steep chutes and rock faces to land a solid eighth-place finish on Day 3 and now sits 11th overall.
Navigating his opposing strengths with the largely XCO field has required some tactics and some tact. He’s been trying to hang with the cross country whippets to get a clear a run as possible at the descents.Katerina Nash returns to BC Bike Race
Katerina Nash is back at the BC Bike Race for the first time in four years. The California-based Czech rider has picked up where she left off, in the leader’s jersey, but not without a strong challenge from a new group of contenders.
Young Canadian Eva Poidevin and U.S. racer Evelyn Dong are have both pushed the past BCBR champ to tight finishes on all three days of racing in the Cowichan Valley. Mount Tzouhalem proved to be the only course where Nash could create meaningful separation. On Day 3, Dong and Poidevin tracked her up and almost all the way down Maple Mountain.
Again, it is a past champion sitting fourth that could throw a wrench into the current standings. Sandra Walter returns to BC Bike Race after winning last year in the Okanagan.Basecamp completes the return to “The Ultimate Singletrack Experience”
BC Bike Race’s week-long event doesn’t stop when racers cross the finish line. The return to camping means the return of Basecamp and all of its amenities. Along with wellness, a beer garden, live DJ’s and 250 tents, Basecamp is about making racers feel at home. This year, that included helping American racers celebrate Independence Day here in Canada.
Day 2 started with Johnny Rock calling riders to the start line by blaring the Star Spangled Banner from a trailer top in the middle of the tent village. Many riders marked the day by racing in their U.S. kit, as Rebecca Fahringer wore to a top 10 finish or, in the case of Wisconsin/Minnesota team VanVan Overland Kollectiv, a pair very American matching bald eagle and Stars and Stripes jerseys.
“We’re here, man! Everyone’s back home celebrating for us, they’re all partying right now.” said Thomas Olek of his Fourth of July celebrations. The stoke was still strong, despite showing signs of a heavy dirt sample. “Oh, I went down, yeah. I was minor, I walked away so I’m not really concerned. But I went over the bars.”
“If you don’t have a little blood on you, were you even riding?” added his teammate, Calvin Dumer
The next day, it was a more local team turning heads with their race outfits. Zoe Dawson and Sara Archer were enjoying the sweet taste of Maple Syrup on Day 3 in matching pink tutus.
“We wanted to have fun. Everyone seems pretty serious and, in Squamish, it’s just something the ladies do when we race.” Sara explains, with Zoe adding “It was definitely more fun rocking the tutu. People were nicer to us, too.”
The team thrived on Maple Mountain’s technical sections, finishing second in the Open Women’s Team of 2 category. After a successful debut, the apparently high-performance outfits could make a return later in the week.
“Yeah, I think so. Whenever it feels like it’s going to be a suffery day,” Sara starts, “The tutus make it less suffery,” Zeo finished. “They’re very light actually,” Sara explained, with Zoe adding “The airflow is amazing!”
On Thursday, BC Bike Race relocates to Nanaimo for the day. A 35.5 km course, with just a 3km neutral return, will squeeze in a vertical gain, and loss, of 1,034 metres. Westwood Lake and the South Benson trails promise long, continuous descending on fast, occasionally rough trails, connected by the occasional punchy, steep climb.
With the shift to Nanaimo trails, BCBR Basecamp is also on the move. The tent community travels north to settle into Cumberland for the remainder of the week.
Race ReportsOpen Women’s standings (Stage 3)
Katerina Nash 4:05:06
Evelyn Dong +3:12
Sara Poidevin +7:45Open Men’s standings (Stage 3)
Craig Oliver 3:21:35
Peter DIsera +3:27
Andrew L’Esperance +4:48Full Results
: Dave Silver
/ Margus Riga
/ BC Bike Race
/ Jens Klett